Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Interview with Thoth, God of Lit. ~~ by Raymond St. Elmo

Took ages to find him. I’d ask at writer’s conferences, libraries, weird old book-stores. Searched online. Most said Thoth quit, he’d died, never existed. Or sold out to Amazon, was running a bed-and-breakfast in Thebes. I gave up. One more god crossed off the list.

Then at a bus stop I notice this bag lady reading ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’. I don’t usually talk to strangers, but that book? It’s like the first fantasy novel game-manual. We chatted, she dropped a few crazy hints, then trundled her shopping cart away. The wheels squeaked like harpies giggling.

So I found the god of writing. In New York, in the alley back of the Random House offices. I don’t think that was irony. The spot happened to be sheltered from the wind, with a good steam-vent and dumpsters stuffed with slush-pile rejects you could read or toss into the trash-barrel flames. Pretty sure one of those manuscripts was mine. I always print my submissions on ivory paper; expensive but gives the MSS an old-scroll feel. Not that editors even send a reject email. Snobs.

Thoth was a tall guy in a couple of coats, a ragged hoody, long beak of a nose sticking out. He wasn’t alone. Fellow homeless stood around, warming hands, debating the worth of what they found in random pages of manuscripts before tossing them to the fire. A lady wearing ten sweaters hummed in Greek; she might have been Thalia, Muse of Poetry. But mortal or deity, we stood together staring into the flames, listening to city sounds: sirens and cars, trains, planes and the eternal wind.

At length I asked Thoth: how did it all begin? Not what was the first story; but why had some lunatic made up that first tale? He took his time answering. As the gods do, when they answer at all. At last he spoke, in whisper low and sing-song as the wind.

“It began just like this. A circle of lonely eyes staring into flames. Hunger in the belly, fears for the dark beyond firelight’s edge. A circle of survivors who saw no story in life but this: eat till you are eaten. And then, and then… some conjunction of thought and sound and heartbeat came. I remember far-off a wolf howled, while fire-wood shifted, sending sparks to the stars. And a sick child coughed. And some man or woman began talking to the flames. Someone who felt suddenly filled with wonder, yet drowning in worry. Wonder for the joy that is this life, and worry for the sick child. Who’d feed them, fend away the wild dogs? And when it became their own turn to be sick, to fall behind in the hunt? What then?

“And so the first story came. Words out the mouth. With plenty of hand gestures, I recall. I forget the tale itself. Some tangle about a forest, a spear and a monster that could only be defeated by a tribe working together. A hunter, a farmer, a pot-maker, and a funny dog who kept stealing the scenes. A mess that needed blessing from the Muse of Editing. It seemed an absurd waste of breath to those practical survivors about the fire. And yet… the idea stuck. Caught, as fire does. They had a vision of a united tribe, caring for one another. Life as a tale finding meaning not in surviving, but in helping to live.

“You ask what was the seed of that first tale? Caring. At least concern. But give credit to the dancing flames, the circling dark and the wolf-howl wind. Most of all to the heart’s cry that life must be more than sparks rising, vanishing, gone.”

I stood there silent, weighing Thoth’s words. Not the first time someone has claimed the origin of storytelling is in the heart’s tangles, not the brain’s wrinkles. Nor that the highest stories turn our heads from the pages, to look at one another with new eyes, with opened minds. Bit old fashioned, I suppose. I’d expected something more grim-dark, but perhaps that’s a style for a darker age.

I was just about to ask the God of Literature if he’d review my new work-in-progress but the cops came, blowing whistles. They put out the trash-barrel fire. Arrested the Muse for being an illegal, confiscated my manuscript though I explained it hadn’t even had a chance to be tossed to the trash yet. My third tazing over a review this year. The rest scattered. Haven’t seen Thoth since.

But I like to think he has a high opinion of the One Million Project.


OMP Admin Note: Raymond St. Elmo is a computer programmer living in Texas. A degree in Spanish Literature gave him a love of magic realism. A fascination with artificial intelligence gave him a job. His books tend to be first-person fantastical accounts with frequent references to William Blake, Borges and PKD.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

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myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

A Writer’s Wish List ~~ by John Nedwill

A Writer’s Wish List ~~ by John Nedwill

“Ho ho ho ho, little boy! And what’s your name?”

“John. John Nedwill, Santa, sir.”

“Hmm. Let me just check my list. Ah – there you are! I see there are some black marks against your name – “

“Oh.”

“- But there are also some good marks. Enough to put you on the ‘nice’ half of my list. So, what would you like for Christmas, John?”

“Ooh – I’ve got my list here. Can we go through it?”

“It looks like a long list, and you haven’t been that nice. But, we’ll see what we can do.”

“Alright. First of all, I’d like a new pen – one with a nice, broad nib that makes my handwriting look neat.”

“That’s a worthy thing for a writer. Go on.”

“And then I’d like some ink. Some really black ink.”

“That will be for the pen? Would you prefer cartridges or a bottle?”

“Bottle please. I’l like a notebook as well. One with good paper that the ink won’t bleed through.”

“Of course. But don’t you want a new tablet or a shiny new laptop? Lots of writers want one of those.”

“Never for first drafts. Next … Some whiskey please.”

“With an ‘e’, I note. You can have it, but only if you can prove you’re over twenty-one.”

“Are you kidding? My beard’s almost as bushy and as white as yours. And could I have some inspiration as well?”

“Hmm. I might have some lying around. But you’ll have to wait for it.”

“Last thing on my list – could you get me an agent? Please?”

“Ho ho ho – no! Remember what I said about only being so good?”

“Maybe next year, then?”

“Maybe. Now, off you go John. Merry Christmas!”

“Thank you, Santa! Merry Christmas to you!”

“Now, who’s next?”


OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Prompt Response

Prompt Response

A year ago, I wrote a couple of stories in response to a writing prompt. I don’t usually do that and, honestly, I really dislike writing prompts.  They’re too much like that old favourite: write about what you did at the weekend.

I always hated that as a kid. Wherever I was, my weekend was full of aliens, magic, spaceships and adventure, but it was really clear that what my teachers wanted was a description of how green the trees were in the park, or how the sea sounded at the beach. Perversely, I now blog about what the animals did around the farm, which is barely a theme or two from writing about my weekend, without the aliens and magic.

I think, perhaps, that my perception of and reaction to writing prompts is the problem. It’s all about creativity and the prompt is just that, something to set the thoughts rolling. Why is it any different to write a story triggered by a deliberately chosen phrase, or by seeing one of the geese racing around the paddock whilst tangled in a bucket? 

I’m blaming it on pressure, on the need to react, to meet someone else’s expectations, which probably says more about me than the prompts or the people who generate them. Perhaps it’s the lurking feeling that it’s like an exam question, subject to that all-important guidance– read the question carefully and answer exactly the question asked. That’s great advice for an exam, but stifling when in search of creativity. 

Inspiration is a rare and precious thing, to be seized and nurtured whenever it pops up. Read the question and then ignore it; answer what you think they should have asked. Especially on those prompts which really are like an exam question and nail you down to a detailed scenario – “you’re a duck and you’ve been swimming on the same pond all your life, eating the same bread and then someone tosses a croissant in the water, so write about your new diet”. Given the prompt, are you now seeing a safari expedition to study pink elephants and go abseiling on sunbeams? Why not?

A year ago, I wrote two stories based on a pair of prompts. I’ve just done it again, for the same venue. The difference, I suppose, is I’m no longer worrying about meeting anybody’s expectations. I’ve taken the prompts, parked them for a week, looked again, parked again… been utterly uninspired… and then, out of nowhere, I have something, and now I’m having fun. Oh, and those prompts were just a handful of words, not a whole world.

Of course, as I stared at this year’s prompts (printed and pinned to the back of a door, two words to define each topic, albeit with an array of explanations, hints, and suggestions not to be constrained by anything in the explanations…) I grumbled about not being inspired. In fact, I got annoyed enough to mutter and makes puns about it, even thinking that it was taking so long to come up with a story so I could scarcely call it a prompt response…

I’m still not a fan of writing prompts, but they do serve a purpose, something to make me look at the world differently, find a different angle on something mundane.

Yup, take inspiration wherever it comes –making the tea, hanging the laundry, rescuing that goose from the bucket, or deliberate writing prompt. It’s all the same – alien invasions, magic lands, amusing chickens – if it finds a story in you, then write.


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC )and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.



Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

Everyone knows that thing that authors often say, you know, the one about how much harder it is to write when you start to realise how much work goes into the little technicalities, besides simply telling a story?

Yes, that thing. It is true, by the way. The more I know about writing the harder I find writing.

I have to edit, edit and edit again. And I always worry that when someone, who knows these things, reads my finished work they’ll think I haven’t edited it at all.

The commas, the cheesy words, or worn out phrases, the overuse of certain words, colons, hyphens, or not indenting the first sentences of your paragraphs…

Phew, I’ve got a headache writing these and that’s not even scratching the surface.

But, today it just dawned on me after moaning about all this to another writer, that yes, it is so much harder to write when you’ve learned about all the things that can go wrong for your work, but… I can also hear the beautiful monologues, dialogues, and narratives everywhere!!!

I can appreciate good discussion points, statements, freakouts or conversations of love anywhere and everywhere I hear them. Whether it is on TV or during the conversations  I overhear outside my children’s school or in some well-written dramas, some sentences are so beautiful it brings me nearly to tears!

And, this is without what I’m reading.

The world of words, as hard as it is, is also absolutely jam-packed with beauty, and we, my distinguished colleagues, are so lucky to have the knowledge to appreciate it.

Let’s bring out the beautiful. It is what we do, after all.


Nera Hart is writing poetry, short fiction and in a process of writing her first crime fiction novel.

She writes in two languages, English and Croatian, and image1her ambition is to translate the classic Croatian novels into the English language.

Nera became involved in The One Million Project recently.

Nera runs a Facebook group ‘Quills And Parchments’, in which book lovers and authors socialise.

You can find Nera and her work at:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1778050345825324

https://my.w.tt/2Jb4T1zLzL

Twitter- @nerahart

 

Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

DEEP WATERS ~~ thoughts on my writing: its failings, its purpose, its promise ~~ by Melissa Volker

DEEP WATERS ~~ thoughts on my writing: its failings, its purpose, its promise ~~ by Melissa Volker

My published collection of short stories was born of a time in my early adulthood in Manhattan where I was single, sometimes lonely, always rebellious and beholden to no one but myself. My plummet into depths or lift into heights affected no one but me, and my desire to connect with the human condition in all its glory and despair led to much of both.

I yearned for intense understanding of what it is to be, to love — to love too hard or not enough — to long for more or wish for nothing, to see the world and those moving through it with x-ray empathy right into their core. It was simple (save for the sometimes crushing lows) for me to be raw, vulnerable, tough, crass, essentially with emotional and spiritual impunity because I was young, life an adventure more than reality, and mortality little more than fiction — or at least, an enemy to dare.

I look at portions of my recent writing and stare at pages full of blatant gaps and accusatory holes; it is often just skimming the surface of what I really mean, where I intended to go. It might be rich in language, moving and full of a certain truth, but it does not take the daring, unabashed leap into the brutal honesty that would make it…devastating. Enlightening. Real.

The words are there — purposeful, melodic, weighted with intent, but they are merely bobbers on the surface of a deep pool. They are fallen leaves of autumn in the current of a river — vibrant, lovely, slipping and spinning, carrying you away to an uncertain destination, the rush and momentum intoxicating…

But what about all that cool, dark water beneath where it is all plays of light and shadow, blades of sunlight slicing into its murky depth with selective illumination that create corresponding pillars of darkness.

That’s where I must go. To the pebbles and rocks on the bottom that cut your feet or sparkle in shafts of sunlight — to flip them over and reveal the multitude of life, death, and breathtaking beauty. I must dive down and cut my flesh on the sharp edges, releasing my blood into the water, or gather the bits of mica and pyrite hidden in the darkness and bring them to where their glitter reflects that of the sun on the ripples of the surface.

The leaves are lovely and bring melancholy contentment, troubled uncertainty, or simple peace, but they are not — all of it.

I must reach All Of It for the words to say what I mean.

Plumb the bottom where it’s dirty — where too much movement stirs up the silt and makes the water murky, thick, suffocating.

If I’m not reaching there, if I’m hovering only just beneath the surface, why is that?

Because life has changed and to delve into those waters requires a fearlessness that has waned.

Those truths are too possible — those pains, that loss, the trauma, that…death.

I am older, with a more complex life — one I am acutely aware could be damaged, maimed, gone even, in no more than a breath because the truth of life is that nothing is guaranteed.

So I cannot dive with fearlessness because I am fearful.

I know now that some wounds never heal. Some pain is too acute. Mortality is no longer a fiction.

Nothing is hypothetical, imaginative, speculative — they are all very possible realities. And to write them, to explore them through fictional lives with any semblance of genuine truth and honesty — with raw realness — I must experience them. Not in the living world — in the imaginative one. But if I do it with commitment (which I must for it to matter), it feels no different.

But there are nightmares there. Fodder for an anxious mind and sensitive heart.

And yet, it is also what has always, always driven the best words to the paper.

What has driven me to the paper.

I am reminded of the definition of courage: it is not acting without fear.

Courage is being afraid — and doing it anyway.

And when I have courage — I am a writer.

When I do not — I merely pretend.

So I look for courage — and I dive.


OMP Admin Note:  Melissa Volker is a writer and OMP Network member.  Melissa is one of our guest bloggers for the One Million Project website.

To learn more about Melissa and her work:

www.melissavolker.com

Twitter: @melvolker

Facebook: @mvolkerwordphoto

New Contemporary, surreal YA “How the Light gets In” out now!


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Confession ~~ by John Nedwill

The Confession ~~ by John Nedwill

Alright, I can’t keep this to myself any longer. There is a terrible secret that I have to confess. Please don’t look down on me for this. You see, I wasn’t always a writer. I was – and still am! – a tabletop gamer.

I first became a tabletop game in 1980. You have to understand that I was young and very easily influenced then. My initial exposure was from an advert in the back of a computer games magazine – one of those that had programme listings you typed in by hand. The ad in question was for a company called Games Workshop, offering three games for £20. But these games were not computer games. These games were roleplaying games: games to be played with dice, pencil, paper, and (so the blurb claimed) imagination. As there were three games, three of us banded together and scraped up the requisite cash. Then we bought a postal order, posted it off with the coupon and waited.

About two weeks later a parcel arrived for us. We tore it open and pulled out three boxes: Basic D&D, Runequest and Traveller. Each box contained manuals on how to play the games, complete with type-formatted text and tables. We were, to put it mildly, perplexed. How could these be fun? But, we had spent our pocket money for the next two months and we were determined to find out what was going on with these things.

It soon became clear that these books were not just words and numbers. They were a means of codifying worlds of fantastic beings and strange treasures; guides on how to settle disputes were settled fairly, if not necessarily amicably. They sparked something in us. For a glorious few years, we became Bronze Age heroes, valiant explorers of space and time, and slayers of dragons. Even better – we became creators of worlds.

But, as inevitably happens, we went our separate ways and outgrew our adolescent fantasies. Well, I didn’t. I kept playing. I found new friends who had also been drawn into these shadow worlds of the imagination. Together we honed our skills. We learnt how to create memorable characters and how to build new worlds. We learnt how to create epic adventures. We read books and shamelessly stole ideas from them, proudly flaunting our thefts and not caring if we were found out. But, most of all, we learnt how to tell stories.

I am still a gamer. I still sit around a table with my friends, eating snacks (admittedly low-fat and low-sugar now), drinking beverages (tea rather than fizzy pop) and rolling strange dice (we still compare our collections). But, I have managed to parlay the skills I learnt from gaming into skills for writing.

You see, gaming has taught me how to create rounded and believable characters. It has taught me how to detail locations. It has taught me how to create plots that will stand up to being poked, prodded and generally tested to destruction. But the stories I tell are now meant to be read rather than played out.

So, that’s my dreadful secret about how I became a writer. What’s yours?


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology